As Vice President Joseph Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have made statements in recent days implying their support for marriage equality, the American public continues to pretend it is confused as to President Obama’s true stance on this controversial issue. Which is weird, because Obama has been entirely clear about where he stands on gay marriage. He said in late 2010 that his views on gay marriage were “constantly evolving,” explaining that at that point in time he supported civil unions but not marriage. Just yesterday, when Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked whether Vice President Biden’s remarks signaled a change in the President’s stance, Carney again responded, “I would simply say his views are evolving.”
How much more clear can the man be? He said his views are evolving. Why all the confusion?
Oh wait, I think I see the problem here. President Obama’s comments have not been translated from Politicalese into English. According to Google Translate, the word “evolving” in Politicalese means “clearly in favor of gay marriage but not willing to take the political risk of saying so until November 7, 2012, on which date, should he be re-elected, he will begin a steady transformation in his public stance and aggressively campaign in favor of same-sex marriage rights and will probably give one of his rousing-yet-poignant speeches that will serve to mark an historic turning point in the gay rights movement and solidify his legacy as not only our country’s first black president but also a champion of civil rights.” It’s amazing how detailed Google’s translations can be sometimes.
And yet, the media — and I have to presume they are fluent in Polticalese, since it’s pretty much their job to be — continue to pretend that they do not understand what the President means. For instance, this:
Carney’s refusal to state Obama’s position on gay marriage could have only two causes: either he does not want to anger gay voters by creating a sound bite in which a White House official says Obama opposes gay marriage, or Obama’s evolving position has brought him to the point where he now supports it, but he’s not ready to make an announcement.
Really? You’re really not sure which way this one is going to turn out? Let’s review: Barack Obama is the product of a multi-racial marriage, something that also used to be illegal in some states until the Supreme Court found miscegenation laws to be unconstituional under Loving v. Virginia in 1967. He is a relatively young, liberal Democrat who went to undergrad at Columbia University in gay old New York City, then graduated from the very liberal Harvard Law School, then became a constitutional law professor in the liberal, cosmopolitan city of Chicago. Since becoming president, Obama has repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, ordered the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, and has strengthened the ability of same-sex partners to visit each other in the hospital and designate each other as surrogate decision makers. Also, he eats arugula. That’s all the evidence I need.
But still…perhaps he has an old-fashioned streak in him that we are not aware of. Perhaps there is some latent homophobia that will ultimately prevent him from fully supporting marriage equality. If only there were a way to know what his true thoughts on the issue were before he was ever in the national spotlight and facing re-election. Oh, wait, there’s also this:
In 1996, when Barack Obama was running for the Illinois Senate, he was asked in a survey by Outlines, a gay community newspaper in Chicago, if he supported same-sex marriage. Unlike most candidates, who merely indicated yes or no, Obama took the unusual step of typing in his response, to which he affixed his signature. Back then not a single state permitted same-sex marriage, and sodomy was a crime. Nonetheless, Obama took a position on the progressive edge of the Democratic Party, and he did so with unmistakable clarity: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”
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